Consideration of Potential Legislation
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY POVERTY REDUCTION TASK FORCE
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01:16 PM -- Consideration of Potential Legislation
The task force returned to order. Representative Kefalas explained the process by which the task force would approve ideas for drafting of legislation, and later on forward bills to the Legislative Council for approval. Each of the task force's subcommittees made bill draft recommendations one at a time, starting with the Job Creation Subcommittee chaired by Representative Waller. Representative Waller provided background on the work performed by the subcommittee in conceiving of their bill draft ideas. Committee members received a handout detailing the subcommittee's legislative ideas (Attachment H). Committee members also received an issue brief on employment-related programs administered by Colorado's prison system, prepared by the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (Attachment I). Representative Waller first explained a legislation proposal concerning moving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to first position on the TABOR refund mechanism priority list. Discussion ensued regarding the constitutionality of making the change. Mr. Ed DeCecco, Legislative Legal Services, provided clarity on this point. Representative Waller provided further clarification on the effect of the legislation idea. Discussion ensued regarding the most recent year for which the state budget allowed for a TABOR refund.
Discussion ensued regarding the importance and impact of the EITC. Discussion followed regarding the process by which the task force will decide on eight legislation proposals to forward to Legislative Council.
The task force informally approved by a majority of seven members a request that Legislative Legal Services draft a bill concerning the EITC issue. Representative Waller next explained a legislative idea concerning prohibiting employers from asking about a person's criminal background on a job application. Discussion ensued regarding the specific changes that would be made to state law under the proposal, and the potential for exempting certain industries from the employer liability waiver under the proposal. Discussion followed regarding the potential impact of the proposal on employers.
Discussion continued regarding the potential impact to employers of forbidding them from inquiring about a person's criminal history during the hiring process. Several members of the task force expressed their reservations with the idea. Representative Waller clarified that, under the proposal, employers could inquire regarding an individual's criminal history during the hiring process, but not on the job application form itself. Discussion followed regarding ways in which a person's criminal history could be discovered under the proposal. Ms. Carol Peeples, representing the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, provided background on the issue of the difficulty of ex-offenders finding employment, and efforts in jurisdictions in other parts of the country to remove criminal history questions from job applications.
Discussion ensued regarding the potential for creating a title that is inclusive of other concepts, such as blanket hiring. Representative Waller then discussed a legislative idea that would remove employer liability when hiring ex-offenders. Mr. Tony Gagliardi, representing the National Federation of Independent Business, provided further information on the need for the employer liability legislation, and the impact of federal law and other requirements on the proposal. Mr. Gagliardi suggested not going forward with the job application restriction issue without further study. Discussion followed regarding the potential impact of removing employer liability on the hiring process and the economy. Representative Kagan expressed his support for banning inquiries regarding criminal history on a job application, and explained his reasons for doing so.
Mr. Gagliardi discussed the potential impact of a "ban the box" law on employer liability. Discussion ensued regarding the potential burdens placed on employers by such a law. The legislation proposal failed to receive enough support to merit a bill draft. The employer liability issue did receive enough support to merit a bill draft.
Senator Boyd presented the bill draft proposals of the Access to and Coordination of Benefits and Services Subcommittee. Committee members received a compilation of the proposals for reference (Attachment J). Senator Boyd responded to questions regarding the potential for fitting the subcommittee's various identification-related proposals under a single bill title. Discussion ensued regarding the impact on the identification proposals of a state law that restricts access to public benefits to legal residents. Discussion followed regarding the potential fiscal impact of the subcommittee's proposals. The identification issues proposal received sufficient support to merit a bill draft.
Senator Boyd discussed a bill draft proposal concerning changing the uses of Strategic Use Fund moneys. Discussion ensued regarding evaluation processes already in place for certain programs, for which the Strategic Use Fund moneys are intended under the proposals. Mr. Bill Hanna, representing the Department of Human Services, provided clarification pertaining to the proposal. The Strategic Use Fund proposal received enough support to merit a bill draft. Senator Boyd next explained a bill draft proposal pertaining to food assistance programs. Senator Boyd responded to questions regarding current certification periods for food assistance program eligibility. Discussion ensued regarding implementing a state outreach plan to target those eligible for food assistance programs that are currently not receiving the benefits.
Discussion ensued regarding the economic impact of increasing participation in food stamp programs. The food assistance issues proposal received sufficient support to merit a bill draft. Senator Boyd discussed a subcommittee proposal to require department policy initiatives to address how the initiatives will impact poverty reduction and economic development. Senator Hudak suggested that the idea could be integrated in a more targeted fashion within specific departmental legislation. The proposal was withdrawn. Finally, Senator Boyd explained a bill draft proposal concerning pursuing federal Medicaid moneys for development disability programs. In response to questions, Ms. Pat Ratliff, representing Colorado Counties, Incorporated, provided clarification regarding the proposal. Ms. Ratliff responded to questions regarding the potential fiscal impact of the proposal. This bill draft proposal received sufficient support to merit a bill draft.
Senator Hudak explained a bill draft proposal from the Poverty and Education Subcommittee focused toward comprehensive community education support. Task force members received a handout explaining the proposal (Attachment K).
Senator Hudak continued to discuss the education-related bill draft proposal from the Poverty and Education Subcommittee. Discussion ensued regarding the fiscal and political feasibility of going forward with certain of the subcommittee's recommendations. Senator Hudak provided clarification regarding the subcommittee's proposals that target specific language in current law, including recommendations pertaining to family resource centers. Senator Sandoval suggested including certain portions of the subcommittee's recommendations in the task force's January 2009 report to the General Assembly. The subcommittee's recommendations did not receive enough support to merit a bill draft.
Senator Sandoval explained the proposals of the Scope of Problem and Metrics Subcommittee. Committee members received a handout providing background on the subcommittee's proposals (Attachment L). Discussion ensued regarding the practical effect of the subcommittee's recommendations, and the potential for supplementing state law that created the task force to reflect a poverty metric and evaluation component. The evaluation proposal received enough support to merit a bill draft. Representative Kefalas clarified the contact persons for the approved bill drafts.
Representative Gagliardi explained the bill draft proposals forwarded by the Housing and Utilities Subcommittee. Task force members received a list of bill draft ideas generated by the subcommittee (Attachment M). Representative Gagliardi first explained a proposal to alter real property law to require that properties designated for use as low-income housing retain the designation when changing hands. Ms. Ratliff provided clarification regarding this proposal, including examples for which such a law would be effective. Representative Kagan provided examples of how the proposal would affect the development and transfer of housing projects, and explained how certain affordable housing agreements are not currently being honored. Ms. Ratliff responded to questions regarding the specific legislative language required to create the contemplated law.
Senator White expressed reservations regarding whether the real property transaction proposal fit within the scope of the task force's work. Ms. Ratliff responded to questions regarding the genesis and purpose of the bill draft proposal. Representative Kagan responded to questions regarding the nexus between the proposal and inclusionary zoning. The bill draft proposal received sufficient support to merit a bill draft. Representative Kagan explained a bill draft proposal for creating tax increment financing districts to fund affordable housing. The proposal did not receive sufficient support to merit a bill draft. Finally, Representative Gagliardi explained a bill draft proposal to establish a threshold for the amount owing that accrues which thus triggers a utility shutoff notice. Representative Kagan responded to questions regarding the current process by which utilities warn customers of their outstanding debts. The bill draft proposal did not receive enough support to merit a bill draft.
The task force adjourned.